Nikon Photo Contest 2022-2023 Judges

Sarah Leen

Lead Judge
Founder/Editor Visual Thinking Collective
Director of Photography Emerita of National Geographic Partners

In this contest, we want to gather single images and stories that represent today’s world. After three years of isolation and fear from the pandemic, we have new opportunities. So, think about your world the change, growth, and show us what happiness looks like now and what matters to you. I hope to see work from around the world with diverse people, subjects, and locations. This is a chance to show where we are today and tell our own stories.

Photography is a universal language. It is so powerful in the way it can bridge cultures and show us how we are more similar than we are different. I love looking at photography. I love watching videos. I love how photography is such a universal language that can bridge cultures and show us that we have more similarities than differences.

So, what might make a striking photograph for this contest? When I see imagery, I am looking to be surprised, I’m looking for beauty, and I’m looking for something that is going to really touch me and move me. For me, the most important thing is how the photograph makes me feel about what I’m looking at. I want to see beautiful compositions, wonderful light, captured moments and even new ideas and new fresh ways of seeing something that might be very common to us all.

Our “Beloved” theme celebrates the richness of what we truly value in our lives - love and respect for home, family, friends, and nature. We hope to see surprising, emotional, fresh, and creative images.

Our “Next Steps” theme asks: Where do we go from here in the post-pandemic future? What was learned and gained? What was lost? What challenges us? What does success look like now? We want to experience the lives and voices of families, friends, and strangers and the solace of nature.

Share with us your vision of the world today. Show us what it means to you to be alive and to share these moments that we can now have together again. Show us your personal vision of the world and the people around you.


While at the University of Missouri School of Journalism, Sarah Leen was the first woman to receive the College Photographer of the Year award. In 2013, she became the first female director of photography for National Geographic magazine and National Geographic Partners. In 2020, she established the Visual Thinking Collective, a community of female editors, teachers, and curators specialized in creating and managing visually driven projects. Sarah believes in sharing her knowledge through mentoring and teaching photography and photo editing workshops, while consulting and editing visual projects and books.

* Comments from the judges are from their own views and opinions and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of the organizer.